New Zealand win rain-hit contest
New Zealand 117 for 4 (McCullum 40, Sammy 3-22) beat West Indies 132 for 8 in 18 overs (Fletcher 52, Southee 2-20) by 12 runs on D/L method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Dominica's inaugural Twenty20 international was a damp affair, with an ever-present drizzle dousing the intensity of the contest that New Zealand claimed to ensure at least a share of the spoils in the two-match series. There was only one stoppage, which made it an 18-overs a-side rubber, but persistent showers greased both ball and outfield, nullifying West Indies' potent spin attack to facilitate a largely clinical chase.
West Indies were 22 for 2 in five overs when play was interrupted, and the hosts were unable to achieve the desired acceleration after the resumption and at the end of the innings. Chasing a below-par target, New Zealand suffered no such problems and were always ahead of the game. When the umpires finally decided that rain and poor light had made conditions unfit to continue after 15 overs, New Zealand were 12 runs ahead of the D/L equation.
The New Zealand new-ball attack backed Brendon McCullum's decision to bowl, striking in successive overs to reduce West Indies to 10 for 2 by the third over. Lendl Simmons was lbw to one from Boult that bent in to hit pad before bat, and Dwayne Smith dragged Southee's short ball from outside off to deep backward square leg. Darren Bravo and Andre Fletcher had just come together when rain forced the players off for 90 minutes.
West Indies enjoyed their best period of the game immediately after the resumption, Fletcher lofting Boult over long-on for six in the sixth over. The debutant Ish Sodhi came on in the ninth and Bravo launched his first ball cleanly over the straight boundary. There was more tap for Sodhi, with Fletcher carting him straight for a four and a six and running hard between wickets to take 14 off the 11th over. Fletcher enjoyed some fortune in the next over, when he was caught at cover of a no-ball from Southee, and then he hit Corey Anderson for consecutive sixes, but the slump was around the corner.
The home side lost six wickets in the next six overs and scored only 34 off the last five, with the batsmen unable to get the better of clever changes of pace, especially from Southee who bowled several bouncers at varying pace. Bravo top-edged a short ball from Anderson to the keeper to end an 88-run stand for the third wicket, and Sodhi picked up his maiden wicket when Fletcher, on 52, miscued a slog to short third man. Darren Sammy, Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard, all capable of hitting the ball far, could not inflict serious damage at the death and fell in successive overs.
The drizzle was a constant presence during the chase, but it never got heavy enough to take the players off. The ball was dry for the first over, and Samuel Badree bowled quick and accurately to concede only two. Jimmy Neesham hinted at the damage he could cause in his new role as opener when he wasted no time in lofting and driving Krishmar Santokie down the ground for six and a four, before inside-edging another forceful shot on to his stumps.
Badree had bowled 11 economical balls before sliding one down leg. Kane Williamson paddled it for four and that was the start of a 53-run stand with McCullum that laid the foundation for victory. McCullum played the lead role, attacking Santokie to take 17 off the fifth over. As he blazed shots through cover, midwicket and down the ground to take New Zealand well past the D/L par score, the spectators huddled under tents to get out of the rain.
Williamson fell to a sharp caught and bowled by Sammy immediately after chipping a straight boundary, but Ross Taylor picked up where Williamson had left off. He laid into Russell, lofting sixes over long-on and long-off, and pulling for four, ensuring New Zealand did not stumble a wee bit even when McCullum fell with 39 to get off 33 balls.
The game ended in miserable conditions and the players will hope that the weather would be more favourable for the decider on Sunday.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo